Condition is everything when it comes to valuing collectible coins and currency. A few points difference in grading can affect value by dozens, if not hundreds, of dollars. That’s why proper storage is a must if you want to preserve your collection’s value.
Both metal and paper are subject to wear and chemical deterioration. Some dangers are obvious—tears, scratches, water damage—but did you know something as simple as the touch of a finger could have dire consequences down the road? The oils in your fingers can stain both paper and metal over time; they can even eat away at them.
So how do you keep your collectibles in tip-top condition? Here are some tips:
Stay hands-offHandle your coins and currency carefully. If you’re bare-handed, hold them only by the edges. Better yet, only handle paper notes and high-value coins while wearing clean cotton gloves. You can find inexpensive boxes at coin shops or photo supply stores.
Keep them in the darkStoring coins and currency away from light will protect their value. While light won’t generally affect metallic coins as much as paper notes, it can cause both to fade eventually, especially the inks on paper or toning on multi-color coins.
Protect them from the elementsContaminants in the air end up on unprotected items and can react with compounds in them or moisture in the air to eat them slowly away.
Don’t beat them upRough handling can crease or tear paper and mar coins. Storing multiple items in a bag or envelope can result in scratches and abrasions. Keep valuable items in separate storage containers to avoid it. And who’s to say what will be valuable ten years from now?
Safe Storage Options
There are a number of ways to store coins and currency that offer varying degrees of protection. Your choice will depend on what you’re collecting, how you want to display it, and what level of protection you want to provide.
Tubes and Rolls
Short of plastic bags, these are the least expensive way to store multiple same-size items. The coins are in contact with one another, but a clear plastic tube or paper roll keep them snug to minimize damage.
Coin Albums and Binders
If you’re collecting States Quarters, old Mercury dimes or well-worn Wheat Pennies, albums with cardboard cutouts sized to fit are an inexpensive way to store and display lower-value coins. Higher-quality albums are better suited to better-quality collections, offering easier handling and more protection. You can also get plastic binder pages that go into a common three-ring binder. They’re sized to accommodate cardboard coin holders (below) and are a good for choice higher-value collections.
These are an inexpensive way to store and protect individual coins. At only a few cents each, they are folding holders with thin plastic-covered windows that show both sides of a coin. The coin is positioned in the window and the holder is folded shut and secured with staples. The cardboard provides a writing surface for ID and the thin plastic and cardboard offer a fair degree of protection. Cardboard holders are suitable for all but highest-quality coins.
Clear mylar holders are like small plastic envelopes. Instead of stapling a cardboard holder shut, they have a pocket for the coin and a flap that folds over envelope-style allowing easy access to the coin.
These 2x2” hard plastic holders are two-piece containers with cutouts for different coin sizes. The pieces snap together and hold the coin in place with both sides visible. Their uniform size and stronger construction make them a good choice for more valuable coins that are ungraded.
Air-Tite holders are a step up from the 2x2 plastic coin holders. They are round hard-plastic containers and snap closed, too, but they also have rubber inserts that fit snugly around various coin sizes to add extra protection. They’re an excellent choice for individual higher-value coins.
For high value coins, these rectangular plastic cases have the benefits of 2x2 and Air-Tite holders with added space for labeling and other documentation. When you send coins to a professional grading service, they’re returned in sonically sealed slabs with full documentation as well as holographic labels to prevent tampering and counterfeiting. Slabs are also available from coin shops for storage and documentation of non-graded coins. Slab holders store multiple slabs vertically for easy access.
Holders for paper currency are available in styles similar to most of the coin holders. You can also get glassine envelopes like those used in stamp collecting. For high-value bills, we recommend BCW Deluxe Semi Rigid Clear PVC Currency Bill Holders. They’re excellent for long term storage of bills and notes. They hold up to 6 3/8” x 2 7/8” size notes, and they open on the long side for easy access.
The Great American Coin Company® is an approved vendor of BCW collector’s supplies and products. We offer their products in volume to help with your collecting needs. Browse our site to find the protective goods you’re looking for.